My Gear

By popular demand, this is the list of electronics that make this blog possible. I am by no means an expert, but I do try to research the things I buy in great detail. Anyways, here they are:

 

Computer

1st Generation – Asus Netbook 1225b (June 2012 – Oct 2013) ~$480asus1225B

Stats: 320 GB HDD, 1366×768 max resolution, 8gb ram, win 7 64 bit, AMD 450 @ 1.65Ghz, 1.44 kg

Pros: Light, small, long battery, good value, fairly sturdy, runs cool.

Cons: Low resolution screen (720p), can’t play games, loads WordPress slowly, SD reader died within months, speakers died within a year.

Death: After 1.5 yrs, the joints were too tight and tore the power button off the motherboard. Repaired it and gave it to my buddy Barang in Cambodia.

 

2nd Generation – Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro (Dec 2013 – Present) ~$1650Yoga 2

Stats: 512 GB SSD, 3200×1800 Quad-HD display, Intel i7 core (haswell), 1.44 kg, Windows 8.1

Pros:

-512 GB SSD – This pro cannot be overstated. It boots in 8 secs and shuts down in 6. On top of that, the only 512 SSD out there at the time was on the Macbook Air 13 inch, but cost a good $400 more than this. It can hold the entire bulk of my 300gb of pictures and videos, which is exactly what I wanted.

– i7 Haswell – The introduction of the intel Haswell chips reduced energy consumption of the CPU by 60%. This allows the machine to have a solid 4.5 hours of battery, despite being extremely powerful.

-The Screen Only one other computer (the Samsung ATVI Pro Plus 9) offered such a superb screen and was $600 more than the Yoga 2. At first, I didn’t think of this as a huge plus, but it was amazing to see my DSLR pics at near full resolution.

-Conversion Modes – The Yoga 2 can transform into 4 modes. To be honest, I never use tablet mode and find “stand mode” to be useless. However, I do use “tent mode” to watch movies and shows while I am eating to prevent anything from splashing on the keyboard.

-Inverted ‘F Row’ – For someone who finds himself using the F keys a lot less than what requires a function and an F key, it is nice that Lenovo decided to switch the two. Dimming the screen, refreshing, closing a tab, all of that can be done with a single key and all F functions require the Fn key. It reminds me of my single “Ctrl+Alt+delete” button I had on my Asus Tablet PC.

-Runs Cool – Despite its power, it is surprisingly cool. I have not noticed the incredible heat build-up you notice on other high performance ultrabooks.

Despite the reviews, I also find the keyboard very good, as well as all of the button placement. The hinges are also solid, and I have not noticed any considerable loosening at all after a year.

 

Cons: I am a firm believer that you learn more about a device from its cons than its pros… well at least equally as much. Here is my list of complains and you can judge whether or not it is complaint worthy.

-Yellow – The computer was put into production KNOWING the yellow did not display properly. There was a BIOS update, but everyone in Lenovo seems dumbfounded about this well known problem on their flagship computer. Furthermore, the fix does NOT work unless you are working on high performance.

-Wireless Card – It should have 802.11ac, but it doesn’t. I really don’t know how much this would affect it as I have never had anything beyond 802.11n. While there is a DIY fix, it voids the warranty.

-Micro HDMI – The port is too deep in, so most micro -> full HDMI adapters do not fit in well. There is an easy fix requiring you to shave down the adapter, but I haven’t done it since I sold my projector. Stupid that they didn’t notice this before mass producing them.

-Screen Flickers on Low Brightness – This is probably the worst flaw of all and the most annoying. It is exactly what it sounds like as it just flickers annoyingly on low brightness.

-More Screen Brightness Issues – Stock, the Yoga 2 comes with one of the most annoying ‘smart features’ since Norton trials came standard. A sensor tries to gauge the room brightness and adjust accordingly, avoiding you the trouble of judging yourself and doing it manually as you have since the beginning of time. However, this sensor is the worst known to man and the screen just goes bright or dim at will. Fortunately, after a lot of digging, this can be turned off.

I am not going to lie, a flawless machine this is not, which is a shame as it is amazing on paper. Nonetheless, every other competitor has its own flags, from the Macbook Air’s refusal to even connect to a wifi signal (which Apple doesn’t find a problem with), to the Acer S7- 392’s terrible clickety keyboard. All in all, I still feel this is still the best bang for your buck.

 

Camera

1st Generation – Unknown Chinese Brand ~$100

Looked something like this. Credit: Phaidon.com
Looked something like this. Credit: Phaidon.com

My absolute first camera was purchased off of eBay for $100. It was a terrible Chinese brand that required an object to stay still for 5-8 seconds, taking 4 flash pictures and stitched them together into a single 12MP pic. Terrible idea.

Trips: Grand Canyon – 2005

 

2nd Generation – Panasonic Lumix DMC – FX07 (March 2007 – December 2010) ~$300Lumix Brown

Stats: Point and Shoot, 7.1MP, 2.5 in LCD

This point and shoot was my first ‘real camera’ (I will try to forget that $100 crap I bought from eBay). It was terrible in dim lights, but at least I had something to take pictures with in the daylight. Despite being $300 and a very mid-tier camera even for its time and class, it did shoot one of my favorite pictures to date.

Bees in a Flower

Trips: LA – > Vancouver Road Trip, Central US Road Trip, East Coast Road Trip, La – > Yellowstone Road Trip, Mexico, 1st Year in Korea, Central China Trip, Beijing, Cambodia, South Vietnam, and Sedona, Arizona.

 

Pros: Decent pics in daylight, decent video quality

Cons: Abysmal in dim light

Death: That trip to Vietnam got sand inside and that was the end of its ability to focus. It was then stolen in Mexico, but I didn’t really care by then because.

 

3rd Generation – Sony SLT Alpha 33 (December 2010 – July 2014) ~$800

Alpha 33

Stats: SLT, 14.2 MP, APS-C sensor size, full 1080p video, 7 shots per second, 3 inch LCD

This was my first introduction into a legit, single lens camera. It shot beautiful pictures compared to anything I had before and for a while at least, it made me feel like a pro. The camera itself was $800 with a kit lens, but I later bought a zoom lens, bag, 2 extra batteries, and a 16gb memory card. For a little under 1 grand (without the zoom lens which came much later), it was the best I could afford. I also loved the idea that I could shoot true HD video.

Sian Ka'an
On my first trip with this camera, Sian Ka’an Bioreserve Mexico.

Trips: Mexico (Jalisco, Mexico City, Guanajuato, and Yucatan), 2nd – 4th Years in Korea, Italy, Japan, Taiwan/HK/Macao, Okinawa, Peru, Indonesia (Komodo / Bali), Tokyo, American West Road Trip, Japan again, and a few days into South East Asia.

 

Pros: Cheap, huge pics (4593×3056), easy to use, LCD flips in almost every direction, decent ISO range, rapid fire mode

Cons: Manual zoom is clumsy on kit lens, HD video format (.mts) is unusable, weak battery life, overheats while taking video easily (under 10min), single dial, decent but not great in low light.

Death: I don’t really know if it was that final time I dropped it hard in Japan or the humidity in Bangkok, but after just 2 days into my SE Asia trip, it crapped out. It still shoots video perfectly, but the camera rarely works. The repair shop said they could repair it for 250 USD, more than its current value. I am hoping to get at least something for the body and sell the lenses.

After two months of borrowing Sidney’s Alpha 57, I decided to get myself a new camera.

 

4th Generation – Sony Alpha 7 (Sept 2014 – Now) ~$1800

Alpha 7

Stats: Mirrorless, 24mp, 1080p vid, full 35mm sensor

I had to make a decision to either upgrade and get a larger camera, or ‘downgrade’ to a mirror-less which would be reasonably priced but much less powerful. Then I read the reviews on the Alpha 7 which is tested toe to toe with the Canon 5D and holds its own. Fortunately, this beauty which retails on Amazon for $1800 was on sale for roughly $1400 in Kuala Lumpur.

Sy

Trips: Sydney, New Zealand

Pros:

-Smooth Zoom

-ISO range

-Multiple Dials

 

-Full Sensor

-EVF –  Not all mirrorless cameras have one

-Battery Size – This is a pro just for me, but the battery size is coincidentally identical to the one for the Alpha 33. This means that I can keep the 3 batteries I have for the Alpha 33 as well as the charger, as it is not included stock on this camera.

Cons:

-Auto Focus – One of the main reasons I picked this camera over the 7r or 7s was that it has phase detection auto focus. However, I have noticed it fail under macro conditions many times, which is really disappointing.

-LCD placement – Unlike the SLR series Sony makes, the LCD for this range does not fold over and cover up nicely. This means the LCD is always exposed to the elements.

-LCD brightness – Sidney’s Alpha 57 has this same problem. The ‘preview’ on the LCD is darker than the actual photo. This usually forces you to take two photos to adjust for brightness under dim conditions. I dealt with it for a few months in SE Asia, but it really shouldn’t be an issue.

Keep in mind, I have not read the manual entirely (read – haven’t opened it) so I am sure to find more pros and cons as time progresses.

Phone

1st Generation – iPhone 4 (April 2011 – June 2013)

iphone 4

Pros: Durable

Cons: So-so pictures, Likes to be stolen

2nd Generation – Nexus 4 w/ Jellybean Xylon

Nexus 4

Pros:

-Picture Quality is impressive

-The best value at the time

-Doesn’t like to be stolen

 

Cons:

-Slow camera = fuzzy pictures

-Does not accept SD cards

Other Stuff

Headphones – Ultra Deluxe sound cancelling with ostrich feathers… nah, just some I picked up for 100 yen (a dollar) in Japan.

 

Hope you enjoyed this way too long evaluation of all the gear I ever used.

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